Why it’s never too late to start over
It is often said that it is never too late to start again , but there is a problem with this statement. Normally, this kind of positive message is useful in those moments when our lives go through difficult times, but it is precisely in those situations when we are more reluctant to accept it: pessimism takes over.
Of course, it is easy to become pessimistic when you look back and think about the time that, from the present, seems to have been wasted. But this feeling doesn’t change the facts: adopting a whole new lifestyle, learning incredible skills, or starting exciting relationships is possible in virtually any situation, regardless of age. Let’s see why we know this.
Why we are always able to adapt
The passage of time not only affects us by making us learn things about our environment; even if we don’t realize it, it also makes us internalize a set of beliefs about who we are and where we are going. In other words, experience also serves to build up a self-concept .
Having a well-established self-concept is very advantageous in many ways. For example, in many cases it allows you to set realistic epectations and not to throw yourself into extremely risky situations in relation to the little you can gain from them.
However, this image we have of ourselves can become a prison. Simply by the passage of time we can come to the wrong conclusion: “if during all this time we have not achieved a certain objective, that means that we are not made to achieve it”. In other words, having more information makes us falsely conclude that we know all our limits.
It’s never too late to start again
If anything distinguishes us from animals, it is our incredible ability to learn . Although many other species have incredible abilities, they exist because they are marked by fire in their DNA.
We human beings have practically no instincts that condition our behavior in a predictable and stereotyped way, which means that we do not reach the world with this kind of help to adapt to the environment. The good thing about this is that, just as our genetics do not give us special facilities, we have a very wide range of opportunities to learn. And yes, at any age.
The ability to learn is part of the brain
Our ability to learn is part of the normal functioning of the brain, since it works from a mechanism called neuronal plasticity: our neurons constantly change their connectivity patterns, strengthening certain relationships and weakening others depending on the usefulness of each of these bridges between nerve cells.
This ability is also expressed in human psychology, for example, allowing us to master very well skills that just a few months ago we did not master at all. Pessimism may make this mental quality go unnoticed, but that doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it is a skill that is retained even in mature age.
If it is never too late to start again it is precisely because there are no ties to the past that determine what we will be in the future . Neither our genes nor our past history lead us to act “on rails”, following in a straight line the direction by which we arrive at the present.
It is true that the simple fact of being older makes certain limits exist when it comes to deepening the degree of mastery that we can achieve by practicing a new skill, but this is only important if we want to reach elite levels. On the other hand, if what we want to initiate is for example an affective relationship , this small limitation disappears; there are no “elite” ways of loving and relating to loved ones.
In the end, starting over is simply the union of two elements: learning new habits and routines, and a change of scenery related to the physical and social environments we move through. This is something that is perfectly achievable regardless of the time that has passed since the beginning of our life journey. It is worth taking advantage of this simple fact that allows us to develop our objectives in any direction.